Cops from Charlotte, cops from Atlanta, cops from Roanoke (nationally accredited!), cops in cars, cops on horses, cops on motorcycles, cops on dirt bikes, cops on patrol, cops on every corner, cops manning the gates that surround the downtown area. Except for a few blocks in the middle of town, the cops outnumber pedestrians. For all of this security, no one has checked my backpack all week. Cars roll through the downtown. Any terrorist could bomb an important entranceway at any given moment. I say this not out of morbid fear, but to reject a culture of fear. Fear will not keep us safe. But we have much to lose by living in a permanent state of fear.
More than a decade has passed since 9/11/ 2001. The heavy presence of security is something we are trained to accept, not a stop-gap measure in the aftermath of Al Qaeda attacks. Let me add some more details. The Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame, where a number of satellite events are held, are part of a fully barricaded section of downtown with security checkpoints. This is a considerable inconvenience to pedestrians, and cars are banned outright. The scattered protests that have lasted into the week are outnumbered by police officers by a ratio of 3:1. The constant police presence is buttressed by private security forces, which are omnipresent, and the Secret Service.
I would like to hear President Obama, in his convention address, tell Americans that the day will come when we no longer have to live in fear. Osama bin Laden’s main goal was to start a lasting war between the West and Islam, and to cripple our financial systems and democracy in the process. During a week in which Charlotte spend $50 million in federal money on securing the city, which has seen no signs of violence whatsoever, it is worth remembering that.
September 4, 2012
Charlotte, North Carolina